The Elements of Disney Theming: Part One

Welcome to Part One of a new series here at WDW Central, The Elements of Disney Theming. This time, we’re going to look at something that really makes or breaks many themed attractions – this one factor is so important regarding the theme of an attraction and its believability. It is: The MUSIC.

MUSIC sparks MEMORIES. When you’re at home sitting in your chair all depressed because your next Disney trip isn’t for a year, what would happen when you heard a few bars of a classic Disney song? It would probably perk you up – whether it be It’s a Small World, Grim Grinning Ghosts, or Soarin’, music is important – when heard, it will bring back many pleasant memories.

MUSIC creates MOODS. This is one of the main reasons music is so vital to an attraction’s theming! Music sets the mood and tone of the whole experience, whether you consciously think about the music or not. Take The Haunted Mansion, for example. From the moment you walk in, you hear that slow, creepy organ playing in the background. This takes the experience to a whole new level by adding that emotion that heightens the experience’s reality.

MUSIC in the BACKGROUND. Music is not only used in these themed attractions; it’s also in the background pretty much every second of your time in the parks. Whether you officially “notice” it or not, area music is always playing in most areas – and Magic Kingdom, Epcot, DHS, and Animal Kingdom all have different areas with different styles of area music, always matching the theme of the area you are in.

On a side note, Disney is very clever about disguising their speakers on attractions and in walking areas. Look to the right (from left to right: In Tomorrowland, these rounded ultra-modern speakers fit right in; On Splash Mountain, speakers are disguised as birdhouses to keep the music flowing; At Animal Kingdom, the speakers blend right in with the polls and African-style design). Click pictures to enlarge.

Parades are no exception. I went to the Universal Christmas Day Parade, and was disappointed. The individual floats were the only things producing music – so when there were gaps between floats (pretty much every time), it was awkward silence. Of course Disney has this covered. They have hidden speakers on 2nd story windows and balconies that play the instrumental background music of the parade, while the floats each have an individual different arrangement that accompanies the BG music. Just another way Disney has thought of everything!

This has been an extremely long post – there’s just so much to talk about! Agree? Disagree? I’d like to hear your opinions on this article – how Music is a vital part and one of the main elements of the Disney theming. The Disney difference.

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